Santa Monica Dispatchers Answer Over 250,000 Calls Every Year

August 22, 2022 10:00 AM
by Marquette Parker, Stacy McClendon

Updated as of January 18, 2023

"9-1-1 what’s your emergency?" "There’s been an accident, and the car is upside down. I think the people are trapped!"

Although these incidents can be scary, Santa Monica 9-1-1 dispatchers are here 24/7 getting assistance to you as quickly as possible. Our team wants you to know how we can help, so let’s spend a little time learning how a 9-1-1 call unfolds.

Dispatchers receive calls through 9-1-1, non-emergency lines, and text-to-911 systems. Once a call is received, a dispatcher asks clarifying questions to obtain the most critical information. The information collected will help determine if the caller is reporting someone in immediate danger (i.e., a fire or car accident) or reporting someone having a mental or physical health emergency (i.e., heart attack or stroke). As the call taker is gathering information from you, the call is monitored and processed by a radio dispatcher who is assigning the call to emergency responders, and emergency responders make their way to your location. While your call taker is gathering additional details, the radio dispatcher continues updating responding personnel with the latest information ensuring they are properly prepared when they arrive at your location.

Calling 9-1-1? Be Ready with the Facts

  1. Address/Location
  2. Type of Incident
  3. If a Weapon’s Involved
  4. Suspect Description
  5. Vehicle Description

Sometimes, a major incident occurs within the city, and radio dispatchers must prioritize calls based on available resources. In these situations, your incident may be placed within a queue and assigned to the proper resource once personnel become available. Once the call is dispatched to the proper personnel, the dispatcher continues relaying critical current incident details to the first responders. When needed or requested, first responders will notify you as soon as they are able to respond to the incident.

We share a mutual goal of wanting emergency responders to reach your location quickly and to confirm the people involved are safe. During your call to Santa Monica’s 9-1-1 Dispatch Center, you may speak to one person, but it takes a team of dispatchers to coordinate resources from various departments to handle your call and the hundreds of 9-1-1 calls received each day. 

Community safety is best achieved when working together. Be prepared before calling 9-1-1 by watching the public safety educational video series.

Apply for new and lateral Communications Operator dispatch opportunities here.

You can learn more about 9-1-1 dispatch at the Office of Emergency Management's webpage. For questions and inquiries about 9-1-1 services, please email

Authored By

Marquette Parker
Communications Operator

Stacy McClendon
Custodian of Records